Summer Fun at the Mission State Park

During the summer, we host an array of FREE events for families and children.

Register for Junior Rangers here, volunteer for the Summer Archaeology Project on this page, or scroll on down for the details of these programs and more! History demonstrations, tours, and old fashioned campfires are for all ages.

Old Fashioned Campfires

Campfires at SCMSHP


Our Old Fashioned Campfires are for folks and families of all ages. Three Fridays in the summer, we invite the community to the park for an evening of tortilla making (masa and cooking fire provided-- you bring the toppings!) live music from local bands, and classic times around the campfire. Led by our teen team volunteers, we do campfire songs, funny skits, and stories as the sun sets over Santa Cruz. This is a free event, and no registration is required!


summer archaeology

S.A.P. or the Summer Archaeology Project has been running at the Santa Cruz Mission for ten years this coming summer. Adult volunteers get both hands-on experience and informative lectures about archaeology-- the process, the discourse, and the occupation. Volunteers meet Mondays at the Santa Cruz Mission throughout the summer, and are expected to join for the duration of the program. For more information, send us an email at !

Junior Rangers

summer fun

Junior Rangers is a statewide program for 7 to 12 year olds.

Play games, make art, hunt for treasure, craft objects using historical tools, and get to know California's past, all while making new friends!

At your first Junior Ranger program you will receive a logbook and badge. For each activity you will earn a stamp in your logbook. And that's not all; as you go through the program, one activity at a time, you will earn some very cool rewards! You can participate at the Santa Cruz Mission all summer long, or combine these with programs at different parks.  Many of our programs offer STEAM concepts and skills. All of our programs are FREE, but registration in advance is requested 

See our 2024 schedule below, and register via our Squarespace link. We run programs all summer on Thursdays, 11am-12:15pm. 

Can't make our scheduled programs? You can fill out our Santa Cruz Mission SHP Junior Ranger Self-Guided Activity Booklet whenever you visit the park. You'll receive a logbook and stamp upon completion. Just ask for details at the visitor center.

Find Junior Ranger programs at other parks in the district.


June 6th: California Foodways

Taste history in two comparative methods! We’ll explore traditional Native foodways with hot rock cooking, and find out how foodways changed after the Spanish arrived 

June 13th: Latitude & Longitude

How did sailors plot their ships in the age of sail, and is it really that important to know where you are? We’ll learn to use cool navigational tools, and try to shoot the sun at noon from the Mission patio!

June 20th: Sun/Moon

We’ll celebrate the longest day of the year by studying the movement of celestial bodies and how they impact the lives of earthlings. Then we’ll invite the sun to help us make art & energy.

June 27th: Geology Rocks!

Native Americans of California have long interacted with various rock types for tools, weaponry, art, and more. We’ll investigate how different rock types would be used in traditional lifeways, identify some gems and minerals of the state, and play the Magma Tagma game!

July 4th: We The People

People have made declarations of independence from colonizing nations all around the world. Come together as we navigate how to govern ourselves and distribute wealth, from the marshmallow mines to a jolly rancher economy, and create our own group declaration.

July 11th: Games of Skill & Luck

From an Ohlone coastal village to the Eagle saloon of the old west, games have been a part of the California experience for ages. Come test your skill, luck, & strategy!

July 18th: All Hands on Deck

Learn the parts of a sailing ship typical of the golden age of sail, and the various jobs needed to keep a ship afloat. Practice your hand at common sailor’s knots, and enjoy the delights of hardtack.

July 25th: What’s in a Flag?

How did people send messages long distances? Explore the world of distant communication before the telephone, teletype, or telegraph. Code & decipher flags of identity, instruction, and signaling.

August 1st: Arrows, Spears & Darts

We’ll take a comparative look at arrows and darts across time, demonstrating atlatl, cross-bow, and the longbow as used by peoples all over the world. Test your skill at throwing a spear, and fashion your own arrow with an arrowhead and feather fletching.

Tours and Demonstrations

Demos at the mission


Wool Spinning & Weaving - Saturday June 8th @ 1pm

Building Methods - Saturday June 22nd @ 1pm

Hides & Tallow - Saturday July 13th @ 1pm

Wool Spinning & Weaving - Saturday August 10th at 1pm

exterior of Santa Cruz Mission Adobe

Sundays at 1pm

Join us for a guided tour through Santa Cruz’s oldest building, the only remaining example of indigenous housing from the California Missions. Learn about the daily life of people who lived here, and ways in which the Spanish Mission system drastically impacted the local native peoples' culture and landscape. This is a FREE event open to the public, no reservations required.